Citation Information: Dinesen, G. E., K. Timmermann, E. Roth, S. Markager, L. Ravn-Jonsen, M. Hjorth, M. Holmer, and J. G. Støttrup. 2011. Mussel production and water framework directive targets in the Limfjord, Denmark: an integrated assessment for use in system-based management. Ecology and Society 16(4): 26.
Abstract: Growth of human activities often conflict with nature conservation requirements and integrated assessments are necessary to build reliable scenarios for management. In the Limfjord, Denmark’s largest estuary, nutrient loading reductions are necessary to fulfill EU regulations criteria, such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD). Cuts in nutrient loadings do not necessarily result in corresponding reductions in eutrophication impacts or in improving primary and higher trophic-level production. Similarly, the socioeconomic consequences of a mussel fishery and aquaculture production are complex and hard to predict. This study focuses on the usefulness of a System Approach Framework (SAF) implementation for stakeholder understanding of complex systems and development of sustainable management. Ecological-social-economic (ESE) model simulations clearly demonstrated the potential problems of WFD implementation for mussel fishers and mussel farmers. Simulation of mussel fishery closures resulted in a tenfold increase in the hitherto fishable mussel biomass and a similar decrease in the biomass of shallow-water mussels and medium-sized ones in deep water. A total closure of the mussel fishery could result in an annual profit loss of ~€6.2 million. Scenario simulation of the introduction of one, two, three, and four mussel culture farms of ~19 ha showed that the introduction of line-mussels would decrease the biomass of wild mussels both in shallow and deep waters, affecting the catch and profit of fishers. The SAF, which included consultation with stakeholders at all stages, differs from the traditional public consultation process in that (1) communication was verbal and multilateral, (2) discussion among stakeholders was facilitated, and (3) stakeholder opinions and priorities formed the focus of the ESE assessment.